Sudden Event: Street Dog Births Two Pups Behind Casita

This was NOT in the plan. I was going to leave Oaxaca on July 20 unfettered. Wind things up. Pack the bags. Go. Now, there is a Mamacita Perra (female dog) and her two pups camping out in the campo behind the casita where I live in Teotitlan del Valle.

Dog house in the campo, tall grass protected them before

I discovered them a week ago, maybe June 29 or 30, when I approached a golden beige mound in the tall grass. I almost stepped on a furry brown ball the size of my fist, maybe four inches in diameter. And, then it moved, ever so slightly. And there was another one, the color of oatmeal, a form barely distinguishable as a living being.

It was then I realized that this dog had just given birth, maybe that day, maybe the day before, secreted behind a young guaje tree, protected from view by grass three feet high (photo above, left of dog house).

Yipes. What was I going to do?

Feed them, of course. The nursing female was bony. I could see her skeleton as she curled up on the earth. Her fur looked like it was going to fall off her body. Her teats sagged and did not look capable of feeding offspring.

Brown puppy, eight or nine days old. Eyes wide shut.

Early on, she would growl lightly as I approached. Now, she knows I won’t hurt her. Today, I patted her head. She is letting me in. I imagine that abandoned dogs feel a lot like abandoned people: wary, on edge, not trusting.

I live in the country, out beyond the village, in the periphery, amidst corn fields, mountain views, wide open spaces, dirt roads, and dogs on the prowl who have been cut loose from their tethers, neck ropes dangling as they run in search of food and shelter.

One of the puppies. The dark brown one is hiding.

Mexico has an abundance of street dogs. Most never get spayed or neutered. People say its a cultural thing, manhood identity. Female pups are usually done away with. No one wants unwanted babies. This is their solution.

Families get their (usually male) dogs as pups, tie them up to a fence post or tree, and feed them once a day. Maybe.

  • Sometimes, they bark too much. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, they growl at the children. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, they get too big and aren’t cute any more. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, they eat too much. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, they take more care than an individual or family can provide. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, they turn out ugly. Cut them loose.
  • Sometimes, owners just tire of the responsibility. Cut them loose.

I could go on.

Few get vaccines. Few are treated for fleas, eye infections, other maladies. They are the discarded and forgotten. And, this is who showed up in my backyard.

My friend Merry Foss has been operating spay/neuter clinics here in the village for two years. She usually takes a handful of dogs once or twice a month, when the owners agree and bring them. Sometimes, this takes some cajoling. It makes a small dent in the bigger problem.

There is a modest charge. Two veterinarians come from Tlacolula to do the procedures. She never has enough money to support the program. Some people can’t pay.

Merry’s veterinarians are making a house call on Monday to check out my wards. When the female is done nursing, I will pay to have her spayed. But, who will take care of this Family of Dogs when I leave in two weeks? Who will oversee the spaying of the female? Who will adopt out the pups to good homes? What will happen to them?

Now, this is something to worry about!

Each morning, I arise and prepare their breakfast before mine. Tortillas, cooked meat and broth. I repeat the ritual before sunset. She inhales the food. She is filling out. The pups are growing.

Mamacita Pera, getting comfortable in dog house

Three days ago, Merry’s friend Kevin brought over a dog house. I lined it with soft cotton bedding and a small rug purchased by my wasband years ago that I figured now belonged in the doghouse.

She (the mother dog) would have nothing to do with it. Yesterday, I put on rubber gloves, and when mom was gone (wherever), I carried the pups and put them inside the house. They are about eight inches long now, eyes still shut tight. She returned, climbed in, and a couple of hours later, all three were outside in the grass again.

But it rained last night, and again today. The weather turned damp and chilly. This morning the Dog Family was warm, dry and secure, happy inside the house.

I haven’t had a dog in forty-five years. My first and only ran out onto a highway and was hit by a car before my eyes. Too painful to go through that again. I’ve never considered myself successful with animals. Too much work. Too much travel. Not enough time. Don’t want the added responsibility. I wasn’t raised with pets. An idea for companionship I consider from time to time, but never act upon.

A Mexican Flag — bandera — red, green, white, nature still life

So, this is something new. And the tragedy is that I won’t be here to participate in the rest of the story. I’m wondering if there is someone out there who would like to step in to help? That means you would need to be here!

Email me:

Would you like to make a contribution to Merry’s Spay and Neuter Clinic? email: 

OR make a gift here and I’ll make sure she gets it. Choose your amount. The amount is the number after the last backslash. Or, create your own amount. PayPal will deduct 5% from the transaction.

Mary Randall has offered to be a check collection point in the USA. You can mail your check payable to Norma Schafer, to Mary Randall, 4208 Loni Ct, Modesto, Ca. 95356






12 responses to “Sudden Event: Street Dog Births Two Pups Behind Casita

  1. Barbara Bruneau Cleaver

    Bless you, Norma.
    We have helped sponsor spay and neuter in Puerto Escondido in the past…very hard to get people to bring in dogs, especially male dogs, for neutering. Slowly getting better…
    Thank you for taking this poor dog in…it helps…
    At one time we had five male cast-off cats in Puerto…all were neutered and cured, and were able to live in harmony…down now to two adopted stray females in Puerto, and a rescued abandoned ( was quite feral) male cat up North ( who now sleeps on my bed).
    Some one will come forward to help…looks like perhaps someone has?
    Anyway…brava for caring and helping !!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Barbara. I need it. The vet just left. He was lovely, gentle. Gave her vitamins and anti-parasite shot. I have an option to board Mamacita and pups with him for a month until my friend Kalisa Wells arrives on August 16. The vet will feed, bathe, walk her. I don’t have any other solution. No one has stepped up to fill in from when I leave until Kalisa gets here. This vet works with Merry Foss for her spay/neuter clinic. It feels like the best thing to do. What do you think? I would keep the mother, spay her, and put babies out for adoption with promise of spay/neuter when time comes. She is blind in one eye. Definitely mis-treated.

  2. It is so hard to ignore the plight of our canine friends. some of them live a very hard life. I’m sure you will find someone to help.
    I am wondering if you are heading to Sante fe for the International Folk Art fest. We leave tomorrow. I will keep my eyes open for you. I will introduce myself if I see you. I have been following your blog (along with Shannon’s and Chris’s) for years and would like to meet you
    good luck with your new family

    • Thanks Bev, for the doggie good wishes.
      Unfortunately, I’m not going to Santa Fe this year, so I will miss meeting you. Enjoy. Lots of Oaxaca friends will be there. It’s such a great place, and so easy to support the wonderful artisans.

  3. Hello Norma,

    If you cannot find someone locally, I would be able to come to Oaxaca to take over the dogs’ care in your absence. We lost our Great Dane to mammary cancer a month ago and have been grieving the loss
    more than we can bear. It would be very healing to take care of this
    mom and her pups and to be in my beloved Oaxaca once again.

    Kind Regards,


    • Sylvia!!! I’m so sad to hear about your pet. I’m very sorry. Of course, dogs are afflicted with the same diseases we have, which makes them all the more precious.

      I am amazed at your offer. Thank you. I have a friend coming on August 16 to stay and care for mom and pups for long term. I am trying to fill in locally for July 19-August 16. If that appeals, please send me an email. Besos, Norma

  4. Stay and take care of them… It might bring you more healing than you imagine.

    • Thanks for the advice, Claire.

      • Dear Norma, Like many others I follow your blog but we haven’t met in person… I wanted to clarify my intent was not to give advice per se… it more of an intuitive declaration, lol. Healing comes in the most unexpected ways sometimes, as we all know, what I meant to say is that whomever takes care of these dogs will be given their own healing in return! I do hope to come see you in Oaxaca. Blessings to you and to Oaxaca.

        • Claire, thank you for your kindness. I’ve been working through how to care for these animals as I prepare to leave Oaxaca. I am much more relaxed now that a wonderful woman named Sylvia has volunteered to come from Cincinnati to stay in my casita and care for the mama and puppies! I already have offers to adopt babies. So, all is a blessing. This is my first time caring for a dog, so it’s a learning curve for me and I feel that she is grateful, and I am too for sharing this journey with her. You are right. Healing comes in most unexpected ways. I welcome you whenever you arrive. Un abrazo, Norma

  5. Norma, congratulations for taking this dog family on. You are correct, there are so many homeless dogs here in Mexico and it is absolutely heartbreaking. If tourists visit the city of Oaxaca, they won’t see many, but outside the city the numbers and their condition is overwhelming. Merry is doing a great job with her clinic, and even if it makes a small dent in the problem, it offers hope. I hope you’ll enjoy your new companions for many years to come– they are the lucky ones.

    • The female landed here and I couldn’t turn my back. I don’t know how committed I am for the long term, but for now, I’m willing to step in. I need a house sitter for 3 weeks, July 20 to August 15? Interested? Know anyone. Thanks Laura. This is to feed the dogs and give them care.

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